Roman Green Glass Flask with Trail Decoration


A very fine small ancient Roman cosmetic flask blown from translucent, pale green glass with trail decoration. The vessel features a cylindrical body with a flaring mouth sats upon a slightly concave base. A single trail is applied to the body and wound around the entire length of the flask in a continuous spiral. Two thin handles in the same translucent glass have been applied to the cylindrical neck, then drawn up and pressed onto the everted, folded rim. Small bubbles of trapped air from the blowing process add further interest to the glass. Beautiful iridescence covers part of the body.

Please check measurements.

Date: Circa 4th-5th century AD
Provenance: Ex London private collection, 1970s.
Condition: Very fine condition. Hairline crack near one of the handles. Beautiful iridescence visible on the surface along with earthly encrustations to the interior. Some loss of trailing.

In stock

Glass production evolved during the Roman Empire with the introduction of glassblowing, which allowed for a great variety of different shapes and styles to be constructed. The technique allowed for easier manipulation of the glass into more intricate designs allowing the vessels to have an assortment of functions. Glassblowing also allowed for a quicker paced production, the hot glass would be blown into a mould and then removed whilst still hot so that the glass maker could still work on it. Different minerals were added to create a variety of colours, changing the natural aqua glass to a multitude of colours. The iridescence on ancient Roman glass was unintentional, and was caused by weathering on its surface. The extent to which a glass object weathers depends mainly on the burial conditions; however, the humidity, heat, and type of soil in which the glass was buried also all affect its preservation.

Trail decoration is an embellishment technique which was a popular feature of Roman glass artefacts, and was composed of a strand of glass applied to a vessel or object. Narrow trails of coloured glass were applied in zig-zag or festoon patterns to vessels; trails of varying thickness were frequently added as rims, handles, or base rings. Trails were also used as surface decoration, usually in a spiralling pattern around the vessel which was either raised or made from a different colour of glass.

To find out more about Roman glass please see our relevant blog post: Ancient Roman Glass and Collecting Roman Glass.

Weight 21.7 g
Dimensions W 4.2 x H 6.3 cm




Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, item 81.10.183

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